Exhibitors pivot after IWF cancels show
More than 900 exhibitors were slated to attend IWF 2020, but the show was cancelled, a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. Exhibitors scrambled to find other ways of reaching customers.

For the first time in its history, IWF – the International Woodworking Fair – has been cancelled. A casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, IWF was originally scheduled to take place Aug. 25-28 in Atlanta.

The biennial show had more than 955 contracted exhibitors as of May. That compares to the 1,025 exhibitors spanning across 625,000-plus net square feet, with more than 30,000 attendees from around the world that the show had two years ago.

A notice on the IWF website stated: "As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our lives and enterprises, IWF 2020 and the global woodworking industry it serves are not immune to such intrusion. That inescapable reality lies at the heart of the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event.”

That meant that exhibitors immediately had to find new ways to reach their customers. Many were already using remote technology such as Zoom meetings and other interactive software. Still others were ramping up their own events such as open houses. A few companies were even banding together to explore creating their own alternative show. Other firms were launching sales tours to take their new products on the road to meet with customers.

As a service not only to exhibitors but also to all of the woodworking industry that misses the opportunities presented by IWF, editors from Woodworking Network, FDMC, and Closets and Organized Storage reached out to a cross-section of IWF exhibitors to find out what they are doing in the wake of the show cancellation. More than 40 companies responded. Their statements paint an impressive picture of a fast-paced industry taking advantage of some of the latest technology to quickly adapt to new realities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Follow the links to see what exhibitors are doing to make up for no show. Think of the stories told here as your own virtual show. 

Editors Michaelle Bradford, Robert Dalheim, Karl D. Forth, and Karen Koenig all contributed to this report.

Biesse: Extravaganza of woodworking automation on tap

Laminating line technology: IWF exhibitor Black Bros.

With no IWF, Cefla hones in on remote connection

With no IWF, Colonial Saw emphasizes remote live demos

Challengers Award entrant Crows Nest promotes project management software

New product launches on tap for Elias Woodwork

ETemplate Systems: On top of virtual technology

EWMC: Celebrating 50 years of woodworking expertise

Felder offers new safe saw, edgebanders, special promotions, online events to make up for IWF

Grizzly presses direct marketing advantage with no IWF

Guffey Systems scalable finishing system is reportedly 2.5x faster; unveil was meant for IWF

Häfele America Co. plans virtual booth tours

Hardware Resources launches new LED lighting product

Hymmen: Helping customers finish first with new digital printing lines

IOT-based software: IWF exhibitor IMA-Schelling

Laguna Tools plans to connect with customers with live machine demos

Leitz promotes new tooling, virtual training opportunities

Leuco goes digital, helps customers tool up

New rip optimizing systems: IWF exhibitor Mereen-Johnson

Seeing strong demand for new products: Microjig, IWF exhibitor

Project costing: IWF exhibitor Microvellum

Midwest Automation promotes range of laminating systems

In the wake of IWF cancel, virtual opportunities open doors for Northern Contours

Northtech: partnering with others to launch new show

With IWF cancellation, NuTek Machinery finds ways to band with woodworkers

Oneida Air, longtime IWF exhibitor, looks to promote innovative dust collection products

Innovative portable jobsite spray booth: Paintline, IWF exhibitor

New fingerjoint cutter: IWF exhibitor Peak Toolworks

RSA Solutions: four-point strategy for success with cancelled IWF

Safety Speed promotes American-made machines, sales & service

Salice America sets up virtual meeting facilities to connect with customers

Time to retool: IWF exhibitor SCM

Stiles Machinery looks to new ways to connect in place of cancelled IWF

Cut Center demos: IWF exhibitor Thermwood

Timesavers LLC launches virtual wood product showroom

In wake of IWF cancellation, sanding leader Uneeda looks to remote meetings

Easy assembly helps customer: IWF exhibitor Valinge

To compensate for traditional IWF discount, Vortex Tool plans to get creative

Weima America introduces two new shredders

Weinig Holz-Her to launch “ReTool Tour”




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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.